With the theme Freedom this year, there was something very appropriate about walking into an event with Laura Bates, who is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, which importantly pressured the government to make relationships and sex education compulsory, and pushed for guidelines for schools to stop children having to be placed with pupils who assaulted them. She was here to talk about her book Misogynation, which advocates that things like gender pay gap, wolf whistling, and more terrorising acts of racism are systemic.
Anticipatingly a theatre filled with women with the odd exception, this well-researched and articulate author stuns and surprises us all with facts and case studies she has come across through her project. With her collection of essays that have been published by The Guardian, she argues through her book the dot joining between the snide sexist remark to the more societal opinions of women and the normalisation of these thoughts and opinions. She remarks, “this book is not a labour of love. In many ways, it would be more accurately described as a labour of frustration, or of anger…” and in the same respect sat in the audience evokes the same feeling, listening to these concerning case studies and statistics.
There was one particular case study which really highlights the issue, as she stated “I went to school recently where they had a rape case involving a 14-year-old boy and a teacher had said to him “why didn’t you stop when she was crying” and he looked straight back at her quite bewildered and said “because it is normal for girls to cry during sex”. And these situations are not rare it would appear that six hundred rapes in UK schools have been reported to the police in the last three years, and that is just those reported.
However, despite these bleak examples and numbers, she also adds hope to the event with examples of girls and women that do fight back against these situations, the one about the woman being wolf-whistled, who moved the ladder away from the roofer doing the whistling particularly tickled me (noted). It’s just great o see someone that is willing to discuss these issues and actively come into schools to speak to both boys and girls about everyday sexism and the things we can do to counteract it. An inspirational event despite the facts littering it.
For more on the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018 click here.